Applications by Ceres Inc.

Ceres is a privately-owned, US-based, plant biotechnology company (www.ceres.net) with headquaters in Thousand Oaks, California. It makes use of genomic technologies towards developments in agriculture and human health.  Ceres specialises in high throughput screening, full length cDNA sequencing, plant breeding, and targeted gene activation. Interestingly, as with Paradigm and Mendel, Ceres has ties to Monsanto, with whom it has extensive license-based agreements.

The company states clearly on its website that the development and protection of IP is an important goal. On the same site it claims that Ceres has filed applications on over 50,000 full length genes and 10,000 promoter sequences.  Ceres’ goal of sequencing full-length cDNA sequences compared to ESTs or genomic sequences appears to arise from the need to gain composition of matter claims in US patents (and it seeks at least one substantial utility per gene sequence for patenting purposes). Ceres’ genomics facilities apparently allow it to be able to investigate gene function such that descriptions of multiple utilities for each gene of interest can be obtained.

We chose to analyse a some recent applications by Ceres covering both large numbers of functional Arabidopsis sequences and also promoter sequences. Ceres’ patent applications provide a more recent example of a bulk sequence application for analysis, and for comparison to the Paradigm and Mendel applications.  Analysis of one example promoter application is also useful since Ceres has interests in this technology.

Ceres’ IP interests in Arabidopsis are focused towards claims on promoter sequences and full length genes with agricultural utility.